There has been a victory for all new members of the Labour Party. The High Court has now ruled that the 130,000 new members who signed up to join the party can register their choice of who will lead the party.
It is assumed that this will benefit Corbyn over Smith, although this can’t be certain, it is highly likely. They are 540,000 members in the Labour Party.
A group of five members were represented in court to by lawyers who claimed that they had paid the registration fee and therefore should be entitled to cast their vote. The legal council said that their clients had been unfairly taken out of the leadership contest.
Stephen Cragg QC accused the party’s governing body, the National Executive Committee, of unlawfully “freezing” them and many others out of the election process.
The court case was brought because of a controversial decision made by the NEC that members who did not have at least half a year a membership of the party up a cut off date of July 12th would be excluded from the contest. This angered many new members and those outside of the party, who saw it as undemocratic and even a coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn, who is very popular with the core support.
The five Labour members crowdfunded their legal fees to fight for their right to vote and for the other 130,000 who had been outcast from the leadership battle, which has just began, and started with a hustings in Cardiff at the end of last week
A Labour spokesman said: “It is right that the Labour Party seeks to defend vigorously decisions of the National Executive Committee in this matter, and we will now study this judgment carefully.”
John McDonnell, the shadow Chancellor called it a “huge victory” for members of the party. He also said: “We are pleased the High Court has seen sense today by coming to the right decision.
“We are appalled by the possibility of an unnecessary and costly appeal. If it is taken forwards, the Party will be using members money to try to stop members from voting. This is unacceptable. I’m calling on Owen Smith to join with us in backing party members and calling on the Labour Party not to appeal and attempt to disenfranchise members.”
Now with the full membership ready to cast their vote in September, both leadership candidates must now focus on persuading the entire membership that they are the right person to lead the party to victory in the next election. Currently Labour stand a long way back in the polls, but once a leader is installed they can get back to concentrating on their opposition rather than themselves. The party needs to unite, but there are also fears it could even split, which would make a 2020 election victory seem highly unlikely.
There will be an appeal against the decision.